The Dune Pain Box

Are you an Animal?

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Everybody who is familiar with Dune, should be familiar with the pain box that the Bene Geserit use to test Paul before his departure to Arrakis. Here is a refresher clip for those of you who don't quite remember, courtesy of youtube:

Now, you too, can test yourself and any number of friends to see if you are animals! You will have to decide what Gom Jabar you will use to properly motivate the participants. This box will include sound clips from the epic scene in the movie, and also be reactive to its environment, by inviting, or 'Coercing' by use of 'the voice', to draw participants to it. Your performance will be rated by the reverend mother herself as you participate in the test!

As a forewarning, this project involves exposure to high voltages and precautions should be taken when working on the circuitry, or during operation. Those who are sensitive to high voltage, or have a medical condition should not participate.

Because the Technology for 'Nerve Induction' has not yet been invented, and Raytheon's magical directed energy stuff is not available to mere mortals, We have elected to use a different approach: Low current High Voltage and some support equipment such as an Arduino, a Wave Shield, and some control and sense circuitry. The equipment will be mounted in a replica 'Pain Box' prop, and Sound clips from the movie will be used to give feedback or attract test subjects.  The box will run a Pre-programmed 'Pain' profile, and rate the subject's performance as the test progresses.  When the box is idle, it will look for people in the room to pass in front of it, and 'invite' them using 'The Voice' to participate in the test.

  • 1 × Arduino Uno Runs the main application
  • 1 × Adafruit Wave Shield + Stacking Headers Used to play sound clips
  • 1 × Adafruit Proto Shield Used to connect all the cruft to the arduino, and hold a small circuit for interfacing with the other components.
  • 1 × Custom HV PSU This power supply is built using Scrounged Computer PSU and TV parts
  • 1 × Custom Control and Sense Board Used to detect 'Hands' and control the PSU sequencing

View all 11 components

  • VIOLA! It works! Behold the Video!

    x3n0x04/30/2014 at 03:36 0 comments

    Well, after some crunching, we finally got the thing cobbled together and working!  The concept is proven!  Future stuff would include a proper Facsimile of the Movie Prop, complete with paint, and maybe a more polished looking electrode.  Also, that annoying GITHUB thing...  Cant Post code, etc here!  We will get that up as soon as we can...  In the meantime, behold the pain box in all its glory:

    Comment below and let us know what you think...

  • The Hand Thingie (aka the Hell Mouse)

    Big Joe04/29/2014 at 07:50 2 comments

    When trying to think of a good way to sense the hand and apply the high voltage pain / fun, [x3n0x] and I [Big Joe] went through a couple of iterations.  We first thought of just putting copper traces on the bottom of the box, but we decided against that.  Putting your hand on a flat surface didn't sound very comfortable.  (Just because we are inducing high voltage pain, doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to make it more comfortable and ergonomic.)  I wondered what we could use to house the electrodes that would be fairly comfortable for the participants to put their hand on.  The idea came to me to use an old mouse.  [x3n0x] liked the idea and was able to find an old PS/2 Kensington ball mouse in his junk box for use in our project.

    Here is our victim.

    For the hand sensing part, [x3n0x] at first tried to use the electrodes and measure skin resistance.  The idea was to switch between sensing and shocking using a relay.  We decided against it for a few reasons.  The circuit he developed worked pretty well at detecting a touch on the sensor input lines, but detecting a release proved more difficult.  He probably could have got the touch release working, but I was concerned about the variations in skin resistance making it difficult for this to work reliably.

    [x3n0x] came up with the idea to embed a CDS cell light sensor in the middle of the mouse, surrounded by a ring of ultra-bright LEDs.  If the participant placed their hand above the mouse attempting to cheat the test by not actually touching the Hell Mouse, the light from the LEDs would reflect off of the participant's hand and hit the sensor.  Thereby letting the Reverend Mother know that the participant is a filthy cheater and she can dispose of them accordingly.  Like wise if no hand was placed in the box, then the light would reflect from the top of the hand chamber to the CDS cell.

    I really liked this idea.  It also has the benefit of an ominous glow coming out of the box during the test.  [x3n0x] supplied me with 5 3mm ultra-bright red LEDs (or so he thought at the time) and I got to work hacking the innocuous, obsolete Kensington mouse into the Hell Mouse.

    First thing on the agenda is open the thing up and pull out its guts.  A single screw (seen in the photo above) is the only thing holding this thing together.  I clipped off the cord and pulled the PCB and ball out leaving me with the above.

    Next, I needed to clear out some of the plastic bosses and other features to make room for the Hell Mouse guts.  My method was to score the bottom of the plastic feature I was trying to remove and snap it off using a pair of needle nose pliers.

    The end result of clearing out the plastic features is above.  Next, I cut out some of the plastic brackets holding the buttons in place.  I toyed with the idea of leaving the buttons off, but I decided to keep them to retain a more continuous look and feel.

    Without the supports that I chopped out, the buttons sat too low. Fortunately I had some 3M double sided sticky pads that I cut to size.  As luck would have it, this spaced the height of the buttons perfectly!  It also held the buttons securely to the body of the Hell Mouse.

    Here is a view of the underside of the top of the mouse after doing this step.

    Here I cleaned out the plastic features on the top side where I will be mounting the sensor.

    In order to space the 5 LEDs evenly, I created a quick 2D drawing in FreeCAD of a circle sliced every 72 degrees.  I drew on a circle using a circle template of 1 1/4".  I printed the drawing out undersized and extrapolated where to place the LEDs.  I marked the center of the circle and the intersections with a punch to aid in drilling.

    Due to the non-flat nature of this mouse, I opted to drill this using a hand drill rather than my drill press.  It probably doesn't matter too much, but it seemed to work out well.  I then drilled...

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  • HA! The code works great!

    x3n0x04/29/2014 at 06:41 0 comments

    Well, after some fumbling, the code works great!  Cutting close is an undertstatement!  Fine tuning and stuff with the box and all the crap inside will be finished tomorrow!  We will post video, and finalize the uploads and instructions in a nick of time!  Whew!

  • The Box Completed (sort of)

    Big Joe04/29/2014 at 05:35 0 comments

    On the last update on the box it was starting to take shape, but was far from complete.  The goal with this box was not to get an exact replica of the movie prop.  Rather, due to time constraints, it was decided to at least get a reasonable approximation of the prop.

    The false back can be seen here which will separate the hand part from the electronics guts of the device.  The above photo also shows the cover which includes the top and back of the box.  The idea is to make the cover fairly easy to remove in order to have easy access to the electronics.

    In order to keep the cover on the box, I decided to use small rare earth magnets to snap the cover in place.  When I tested out the strength of the magnet to magnet bond, it was too strong.  [Afro Spock] was concerned that removing the cover when the magnets were so strong could rip the box apart.  We found through experimentation that 3 layers of duct tape on each magnet reduced the intensity of the bond just enough, while still retaining quite a bit of strength.  Our method of embedding the magnets involved cutting out a properly sized, round hole in the foam core, pushing the magnet in the foam core, and covering it with duct tape.  Keep in mind the magnetic polarity when embedding the mating magnet.  Test it out before committing with tape or glue!  (Don't ask...)

    The cut out for the victim / participant's hand is over sized from the proportions of the prop on purpose.  (My brother [Afro Spock] and I [Big Joe] have big ham hands.)  Once the hand cutout was complete we boxed in the interior of the hand chamber so the ultra-sonic sensor wouldn't get false pings from a lip.  The sides flare out in the back to the inside of the exterior walls and come closer together at the front, where they are flush with the front hand cutout.

    This photo shows the hand chamber boxed in with more foam core.  Notice the side walls are narrower in the front and flare out in back.  Also visible are the cutouts for the ultra-sonic range sensor in the back, and the hand rest.  The hand rest will be covered in more depth in a separate log.

    I made the hand rest removable using hook and loop strips and a couple of connectors.  It may not be clear from the picture, but there are two headers glued across the opening where the ball used to go in the mouse.  One is for the high voltage electrodes and the other is for the hand sensor connections.  There are two mating connectors on the bottom of the box which bring out the high voltage wires and the hand sensor wires to the back.  These connectors were glued in the cutout on the bottom after the hand rest was seated on them to get the height right.  Again, more details on the "pain mouse" will follow in a separate post.

    That's basically it for the box.  I had planned to glue some trim to it and paint it to look more like the prop, but I ran out of time.  As I said earlier, it's a crude, but reasonable approximation of the movie prop.  There isn't really anything too critical about this box and there are plenty of other superior ways to do this.  If anyone recreates this project and improves upon the box design / fabrication, we'd love to see it!  Send us a link in the comments.

  • Latest Schematics !

    x3n0x04/28/2014 at 03:57 0 comments

    Thought I would post all the schematics in their most current form for everyone!  I have posted them as JPG.  Later on, I will get the PDFS up here as well.

    The PSU:

    The Control Circuit:

    The Block diagram ( How does everything hook to the Arduino?)  Sorry guys, no fritzing or anything like that.  Your gonna have to read the schematics carefully...

    So there it is.  The code should be done by tomorrow sometime, and then we will try and get some video up.  Everything is coming along pretty well!

    Comment, Give skulls, and stay tuned for the final play in this project...

  • Code is Under way!!!

    x3n0x04/25/2014 at 04:58 0 comments

    The code is coming along nicely!  Everything but the Ping sensor stuff is basically done!  It should be complete by beginning of next week!  Talk about cutting it close!  The box should also be done by early next week.  Then we just have to cobble it all together and finish the documentation! 

  • Videos Posted! Check them out below!

    x3n0x04/22/2014 at 06:04 0 comments

    The video of the wave shield testing is up.  Check them out!  Comment, Give skulls, and follow to stay tuned for what is coming next!

  • Wave Shield - Take 2

    x3n0x04/22/2014 at 06:01 0 comments

    Since the volume of the first test was so dismal, in part due to the poor speaker and open air conditions, I whipped up an amplifier from an LM383.  8w baby!  You can sure hear it now!  Oh, and I'm sure the better quality speaker and enclosure help some too...  Check it out...

  • Wave Shield Testing and Audio

    x3n0x04/19/2014 at 21:03 0 comments

    Testing the Wave Shield...  Seems to work Good.  Got some good sound clips from the movie.  Video is forthcoming after I get it uploaded to youtube.  This is waaaay too much fun...

    Youtube video below...

  • The Box Starts to Take Shape

    x3n0x04/19/2014 at 17:00 0 comments

    So, a couple of us started making the box.  It wasn't easy to find good pictures of the box as shown in the movie, and you don't get very good views of it.  After some digging, we found a place that sells old movie props and they had a listing for something that looked about right.  They listed dimensions, and that gave us something to start working with.  We still haven't figured out how to do the columns on the front, but so far, it looks like it will work well.  There is a lot of room in he back for the electronics, and after it gets painted and trimmed, it should look the part pretty well.  Here are some pictures of the progress:

    Here is the foam board, ready to 'go under the knife'.  Foam Board and Gorrilla Glue... Yummy...

    The shape begins to show.  We used Pins and Glue both to make the joints to help make sure it had some strength.  

    Afro Spock, carefully contemplating the terrible device we are bringing to life...

View all 14 project logs

  • 1
    Step 1

    PLEASE NOTE:  Before you dive right in and assemble your Wave shield, there are a few things you will need to take note of:  Make sure that you use the 'Stacking headers' on your wave shield.  It will be in the middle of the stack so that we can put the proto-shield on the top.  You will also wire the connections on the wave shield  to the Arduino pins a bit differently!  More information about the Arduino stack up will be given later.  Now, on to the Power supply:

    Acquire the necessary parts to build the power supply from the following sources:  Some old computer power supplies(at least 2), and old skool CRT monitors or TV's.  You need to look for and carefully remove the following kinds of parts from your computer power supply:

    You should find at least one of these inductors in each donor computer supply, near all the output filter caps and the wire bundle that solders to the board.  Remove it, and strip off the magnet wire to get a core that looks like the yellow doughnut above.  You will need two of these cores for this project.  There are tons of other useful things in there too, so don't throw them out yet...

    Then, remove these from the high voltage side of the power supply, usually on the large heat-sink by the huge input caps:

    I find these in just about every make and model of computer power supply I take apart.  They have the part number 2SC2625.  They are 10A, 400V NPN power transistors.  We will be using these for the main switching element in our new HV PSU.

    Next attack your CRT.  Be sure to discharge the CRT and the board attached to it before attempting any work inside the monitor or TV!  The voltage inside can easily kill you!  Don't say I didn't warn you!  Remove the following parts from your donor CRT board:

    You need two identical ones with the same part numbers.  I used some BYV26B parts in my power supply.  Save these diodes.  They are useful for high voltage experiments!  They can usually be found nestled around all over the board, usually next to FETS and Transformers.  Also, you know those big Blue, red, and orange things all over the board that kinda look like candies?  They are high voltage film capacitors!  Rescue as many of them as you can (carefully!  The encapsulation likes to crack around the pins if you are not carefull!).  You will need two identical ones rated to at least 400V for this project.  Hopefully, you can find some that will total 1uF or so when hooked in parallel. 

  • 2
    Step 2

    Now that you have gotten some of the parts, and hopefully stocked your parts bins and caused some carnage in the process, we are ready to proceed.  This is the end goal of this hullabaloo:

    You will wind two large inductors using the cores you salvaged earlier, use the diodes you rescued, and also the transistors.  Sadly, you may have to buy some stuff from digikey or mouser, but thats the way it goes sometimes.  Unfortunately, its pretty hard to scrounge everything, but for the most part, you can usually rescue a lot of stuff from discarded electronics.

    Here is a schematic that you can hopefully use to build this part of the device.  (All the source files will be included as a zip after project completion) 

    click to embiggen

    Before I get flamed, I realize that this circuit is FAR from optimal, and probably likely to make smoke at some point in its life, but this is a hack, right?  Besides, it seems to work pretty good for a hack, and as long as it doesn't grenade immediately when we use it it should suffice for our purposes.  

    While theory is way beyond the scope of this project, briefly, we will turn each inductor on for some amount of time to store energy, and then quickly shut it off.  This makes a high voltage spike as the magnetic field collapses, which passes through the diodes into the high voltage capacitor, giving us what we want;  High voltage DC!  If we pulse each half in turn, and control the duty cycle, we should have a pretty good degree of control over what comes out of the output.  Note the Opto-isolators!  This helps isolate this dangerous circuit and its associated bad behavior from the sensitive Arduino and wave shield.  The particular type of Opto-Isolater in the circuit is not too critical, and the type called out in the circuit can be had on ebay by the dozen for very little cash.

    Next, on to winding the inductors!

  • 3
    Step 3

    Winding the inductors is easier than you might think!  I used about 4 feet of 18GA Magnet wire to wind the inductors for this particular power supply.  Each inductor has ~30 turns on it for an inductance of about 90uH.  If you don't have magnet  wire, 24 gauge stranded wire will work ok in this instance, as we are not going to be running very high frequency.  The easiest thing to do is to cut off a suitable length of magnet wire, and just start winding them, being careful not to let the magnet wire kink, and making sure you get the turns snug around the core and with relatively even spacing.  The most difficult part is starting the first few turns.  Start by leaving about an inch long tail of wire, and winding the wire around through the middle of the core.  after a few turns, the wire will kind of hold itself on, and it will be easier to tighten the turns as you go.  Here is a picture of one of the inductors being wound:

    You need two of these, identical to one another, one for each half of the power supply.  Take your time and be careful, or you will end up with a mess of wire that will not work well, and will probably need to be thrown away.  After you have wound them, trim the tails to about 1-1.5 inches, and remove the enamel (if you used magnet wire) from the wire, almost all the way to the core, leaving about 1/8".  If you used stranded wire, then, I cant help you...  Well, ok, just leave a manageable amount on there and strip it down and tin to where you need it when you put it into the circuit.  An easy way to remove the enamel from magnet wire is to heat the wire with a lighter until it flames up and turns black.  Then, using some fine sandpaper (200 - 400 grit)  remove the charred enamel from the wire until you see the shiny copper underneath.  

    If you do not do this, you will not be able to make an electrical connection to the wire, and the inductor will not work properly.  After you have removed the enamel, apply some paste flux to the copper and tin the exposed copper with your soldering iron.  You should get a smooth coating of solder on the exposed copper, allowing you to make a good electrical connection to the inductor.  If you have access to one, it is a good idea to check the inductor with an LCR meter to see that the value is right.  The value is not terribly critical, but should be around 85-90uH.

    Once you have these inductors, simply build the HV PSU per the schematic above.  The only part you will not be able to get for the PSU from scrounging will probably be the MOV's across the emitter and collector of Q2 and Q3.  These can be gotten from digikey for a resonable price.  I used part number ERZ-V07D361 because I had some left over from another project, but anything similar will do, as long as the breakdown voltage is less than 400V and greater than 300V.  If you do not include this part, you run the risk of popping Q2 or Q3 because of over voltage.  How you construct the circuit is up to you, but be sure you make the connections between C1 and the inductors large, as well as the connections between the other terminal of the inductors and the collector of Q2 and Q3 also large.  be sure the the connection from both the emitters of Q2 and Q3 are large as well.  This is necessary because there are heavy currents that flow in these paths during switching, and we can help a bit with the dismal efficiency of this thing by keeping them large, low inductance, and low resistance.  Note the wide fat paths I used to connect those parts of the circuit below:

    A good way to do this, instead of blobbing up solder, is to use some of your de-soldering braid as the connecting wire.  It is fat and has a lot of copper, allowing a low resistance, low inductance path for the large currents to flow.  Once you have built the power supply, and double checked all the connections, you are ready to move on to the pulse distribution and control circuit.  If you want, this power supply can be tested using a 555 and some logic gates or even a micro-controller to generate a 25-30% duty cycle pulse that triggers each side every other time, or, in other words, you drive A for one pulse, and B for the next pulse and back and forth between the two sides. A frequency of about 16 Khz(8 khz per side) seems to work well.

     A high voltage will develop across C2, and you can measure it carefully with a multimeter to see what it reaches.  It should be about 150-200V pretty easily, more is the duty cycle is larger.  Be careful, as you can receive a nasty shock from C2 during, and even several minutes after the unit is powered off!  If you have ever wondered what it felt like to be zapped by a photo flash unit (don't ask!), well, this will give you a taste, but doesn't have as much energy!  IT WILL HURT!  I PROMISE!  Just trust me and be careful mmkay?

    In the next phase, we will cover some basic theory and construction of the pulse divider circuit, and the touch-release sensor circuitry.  Stay tuned, give skulls, follow and enjoy!  Thanks!

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Enjoy this project?



Mike Szczys wrote 05/07/2014 at 20:33 point
Wow, You've come so far since I last looked at this one. Great work!

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Mike Szczys wrote 04/16/2014 at 16:21 point
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer that tricks me into thinking I can't win contests."

Ha! I love it. Fantastic idea!

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x3n0x wrote 04/17/2014 at 22:09 point
Thanks! Hopefully it goes over well!

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